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True Fashion Never Goes Out of Style

Adire is a Yoruba word from (adi) “to tie” and (re) “to dye.” Adire is an indigo reverse-dyed cloth that was first produced and worn by the Egbaland people in the Southwestern city of Abeokuta in Nigeria. The city was historically the centre of cotton production in the nineteenth century. In the second half of the twentieth century, synthetic dyes started been imported which introduced more colour palette and so the “adire” label was extended to cover any hand-dyed fabric that uses wax resist methods to produce patterned cloth. The method has since extended to other cities in the country and even as far as Uganda in East Africa where there is now a fabric called “Kampala Adire”.  

4 Primary Resist Techniques Used to Achieve Effect

  • Traditionally, the adire process involves two female dyers called “alaro” who control production and marketing of the fabric and the decorators called “aladire” who create the resist patterns. Two basic resist techniques used to be utilised to create white designs to contrast with a deeply saturated indigo blue background. But experimentation in the twentieth century has led to additional two techniques. 
  • Oniko “Raffia-Tyed” – This process involves tying raffia around small stones or seeds into the fabric to create small white circles on the blue background. Larger circles could be made by lifting a point of fabric and twisting the fabric beneath it tightly or tied in itself.
  • Alabere “Stitch Resist” - This process involves stitching with thread as a means to resist the dye. It involves stitching raffia spine into the fabric in a pattern before dyeing. After dyeing, the raffia will usually be removed though some leave it in for the wear and tear of the fabric to slowly reveal the pattern. 
  • Batani “Stencil Resist” - This process involves creating patterns that have been cut into zinc stencils to control the application of the resistant starch. 
  • Eleko “Starch Resist” - This process involves resist dyeing using starch made from cassava flour. This starch resists the dye from penetrating the cloth, creating the pattern. Traditionally, it was done using different sized chicken feathers though now metal stencils are been used. The starch is applied to one side of the fabric so the other side would be plain blue. Most designs have repeated patterns created with no focal point of interest.

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Adire Making in Progress

Article credit : https://fashionandrace.org/database/adire/
https://fashion-history.lovetoknow.com/fabrics-fibers/adire
https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/adire-the-art-of-tie-and-dye-pan-atlantic-university/NQJysVP8AxQtIw?hl=en

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